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Oregon Cottage Food Law

Oregon is one of the more tightly regulated states when it comes to food production and cottage food laws. In 2016, the state passed a bill that allows for some amounts of home baking, but it did not provide unlimited access to licensing.

For the most part, Oregon tries to relegate commercial food licensing to each county. The state also errs on the side of considering all food production to be commercial food production. Despite the tight regulations, there are rules in place that allow for cottage food production in the state.

Home Kitchen License

Oregon offers what the state has dubbed a home kitchen operational license. The regulations clearly identify what constitutes a home kitchen and how it can be used for commercial food production and sales.

According to the state, a home kitchen is the one that is primarily used in a residence anywhere in Oregon. What that means is that a home with more than one kitchen could have a designated commercial kitchen that operates under different regulations. If the kitchen in question counts as a home kitchen, then it needs a specific Oregon domestic kitchen license.

The license regulates what foods can be produced, how they should be handled and more. The state does not allow home kitchens to provide food services or catering. Only food processing can be done under this license.

Maintaining the license requires annual health inspections and an annual renewal fee.

Commercial Kitchen License

The Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) governs home kitchen regulations and licensing. For a formal commercial kitchen (which can do restaurant or catering work), the regulations are handled at the county level.

Commercial kitchens require licensing and regular health inspections. All of that is run through the County Health Department and will not resemble the processes that govern home kitchens.

Commercial kitchen applications can get started at the Local Public Health Authority.

Catering License Oregon

Catering licenses in Oregon follow the same governing authority as commercial kitchens. They are regulated by county health resources. That is where licensing is managed, and it covers health inspections and all associated fees.

Catering can be run from a static or mobile kitchen. In either case, the county health department will manage regulations and licensing, but the specific requirements for a catering business may vary depending on the type of kitchen being used.

At Home Bakery License

The state of Oregon does not offer at-home bakery licenses. Running a bakery — regardless of the location — constitutes commercial food production and is regulated and licensed accordingly.

Each county gets to set rules related to bakeries (along with all other commercial food facilities). State regulation prevents bakeries from being operated out of a home, and counties cannot overturn this limitation.

For anyone attempting to open a bakery, licensing and regulations can be found through county government resources. That will include rules, applications and inspections.

There is a small exception. The state offers a domestic bakery license for limited baked goods and confectionary items. Additionally, the production and distribution of those foods are severely limited. Exceptions are granted on a case-by-case scenario, so blanket accessibility to home bakeries does not exist in the state.

Oregon Laws Selling Homemade Food

The state of Oregon places clear restrictions on what can and cannot be done in a home kitchen. Food cannot be sold out of a home kitchen in Oregon. Similarly, a home restaurant or catering service is not allowed.

Only food processing can be done in a home kitchen, and that faces severe limitations. Specific types of foods can be produced for sale at an approved location. Those include some confectionery items (like cookies), production of well-preserved canned goods like jellies and other low-risk foods. Domestic kitchens are never allowed to process meat, dairy or low-acid foods for canning.

Any food production or distribution that exists outside of the homemade food exceptions is regulated by commercial food laws at the county level.

Oregon Cottage Food Labeling

Food labeling in Oregon is strictly controlled. The state provides a comprehensive guide to correct labeling procedures. It covers the rules for label displays (as in how they need to be presented on the food). Included information, methods of labeling and more are all covered by these regulations.

In general, all labels need to identify the food product and its net weight. They should also include nutritional facts (with some exemptions) and ingredient statements.

In most cases, the label has to provide a location of production or packaging and likely a time when the food was processed. If a food contains milk, eggs, soy, wheat, fish, crustaceans, peanuts or tree nuts, it must include an allergy warning somewhere on the label.

Oregon Food Laws and Exemptions

Certified kitchen requirements are not clearly standardized across the state. A license to sell food in Oregon can vary wildly depending on where the food is produced and what kind of food it is. A cottage food license in Oregon is substantially different from a commercial food license, especially considering the former is regulated directly by the state while the latter depends on county rules.

Overall, if you want to produce food for sale, some homework will be needed. You can follow the directories to find the rules that pertain to your operation and go from there.

Cottage Foods List Oregon

Oregon regularly updates the rules for home kitchen production. There is no new Oregon cottage food law for 2021. The rules in place have been there since 2016, which included the Oregon home baking bill.

Essentially, the Oregon Department of Agriculture handles retail food establishment licenses for anything that would be considered a cottage food operation. These licenses specifically limit the items that can be produced. It also dictates how foods are labeled and sold.

For the most part, very few foods qualify for cottage food production in Oregon. One can make jams, jellies, nuts, confectionaries and certain baked goods.

While Oregon does have provisions for baking at home, fully licensed at-home bakeries are prohibited. Instead, production and sales are limited for cottage food baking. Within those limitations are baked goods that are acceptable.

Accepted baked goods include bagels, biscuits, breads, brownies, cakes, cookies, muffins, pizzelles, rolls, scones, sweet breads and tortillas. Even within this list, additional restrictions apply. None of the baked goods can contain components that require refrigeration. That means cakes with dairy-based frosting are not approved for cottage bakeries.

Other approved items that might be seen in a bakery include chocolate covered items, candied apples, marshmallows and granola. Some pastries are also allowed. Once again, none of these items can require refrigeration for safe storage. No unbaked dairy ingredients are allowed.

The strict limitations on food production make it easy to discern if a cottage food business plan is likely to be approved by the state.

Cottage Food Laws by State

Oregon’s cottage food laws can be reasonably compared to the rules in nearby states. Looking at each one, you can see if Oregon comes across as particularly harsh or lenient.

California Cottage Food Law

California cottage food regulations mostly center around types of foods. Any food that is deemed low-risk by the state can be made in home kitchens. That includes many baked goods, dried fruit, pasta, pies, honey, jams, nuts, popcorn, roasted coffee and more.

Anyone operating from a home kitchen in California needs a specified cottage food law, and they must pass a health inspection. The cottage food regulations determine what foods can be made, how they should be handled, storage procedures, appropriate methods of sales and distribution and cleanliness (no pets in the kitchen, for instance).

Washington State Cottage Food Law

Washington cottage food regulations also center on the type of food being produced. There is an exhaustive approved food list, and only foods on that list can be produced at home. Assuming that requirement is met, applicants can go through a state process that includes a $230 fee and proof of safe handling procedures and knowledge.

Washington does allow cottage food producers to sell their food directly, and the state encourages contactless delivery to reduce the risk of spreading disease (COVID-19 is cited in the regulation).

Idaho Cottage Food Law

Idaho allows home kitchens to produce a number of foods that do not require refrigeration. The approved foods list is longer than neighboring states, and potentially, foods that are not on a specific list can be legally produced as long as they are not expressly prohibited.

Producing cottage foods in Idaho does not require a license, and the food can be sold anywhere as long as the food is sold directly to the consumer. Idaho arguably has the loosest cottage food laws on this list.

Nevada Cottage Food Law

Nevada regulates cottage food production by county. Specific counties are eligible for cottage food licenses. Other counties prohibit cottage food licensing.

If a home is in an approved county, then food producers can make items on a pre-approved list as long as they are licensed.

In terms of cottage food, Oregon offers what the state has dubbed a "home kitchen operational license." Learn about the state's cottage food regulations and how they compare to other states' laws.

Heather Brookshire

The Cake Whisperer


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